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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Goodbye, child of ours

On June 5th, God put another child in my womb. On August 4th, that child died. I want to tell you the story so that you can understand our hope. Unfortunately, "hope is born of suffering".

"Held" by Natalie Grant

"Two months is too little"
We were so exited to find out that we were pregnant with our 3rd child!! We had Jay, our 2 year old, tell our families that 'There's a baby in mommy's belly'. It is so much fun to share that news and watch everyone's faces light up with joy and surprise.
From the moment we found out, I was imagining life with this child. I thought it was a girl because my pregnancy was so different. I started thinking of girl names. Every time I put Ben, our youngest, in his crib, I told him that he was the baby for now and that I had the tiny baby in my belly. I imagined cradling our little girl and how light she would feel in my arms compared to Ben and Jay. Jay called our child "Baby #3" because that's what Shamus called her when he talked to Jay and prayed with him. Because that was one of her names, I don't think we can call any other child "Baby #3". If God gives us another child, it will be "Baby #4".
You may think it sounds ridiculous to feel so upset about losing an unborn child that we have never met. You may think that it wasn't even a child. You may think that we are overreacting. If you have never experienced this, it will certainly be hard for you to be compassionate. I am not looking for your compassion though because I have my Heavenly Father's and He is more than enough - that is what this story is really about.

"They let him go
They had no sudden healing"
I went in for an ultrasound at 13 weeks to check on a small cyst. As "Mandy", the technician, started looking for the cyst, she passed over our child and I saw our baby lying on the bottom if my womb, and I knew in that moment that our baby had died. "Mandy" immediately noticed how still the child was and started checking for blood flow. This being my third pregnancy, I knew what to look for. My baby stayed white while my veins and arteries became red and blue. She checked for a heartbeat and looked at me with pain in her eyes and said, "Karen... I'm not getting a heartbeat." "I know." And the tears came. She still had to find the cyst and check that everything else was okay in terms of my health. I was so weakened by sadness but God gave me strength to stop crying and lay still so she could finish. After she found no problems, I called Shamus to tell him. He answered and only heard crying. I managed to say "It happened." I wasn't sure he knew what I meant, but it felt impossible to say the word "miscarriage". I kept crying and couldn't get control. I closed my eyes and breathed in and finally said "I had a miscarriage", and the sobbing continued. I managed to tell him I was at the doctor's office and to please come. He left work right then.
"Mandy" was still in the room with me and just said through tears, "I didn't expect this at all." I was still crying but God's Holy Spirit, who lives in me and every other believer, empowered me to say "Can I pray with you?" I prayed without crying and told God of His character, which honestly was not my initial thought in that moment.
Romans 8:26-27 says "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." In my experience, the spirit intercedes through words as well.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says "But he (God) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." I am not strong, but the Lord is and he graciously gives us His strength.

"To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling"
We prayed for Baby #3's health every time we prayed. Sitting down for a meal is hard because the prayer is now "Thank you, God, that you are holding Baby #3." At night when I pray with the kids before bed, I always thank God for each of our children, including Baby #3. I often cry while praying with Jay and he just says "Why mommy crying? Jesus holding Baby #3. Baby #3 all gone." He has defined "childlike faith" for me. Mark 10:15 says "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it". The day we found out about the miscarriage, Shamus was explaining again to Jay what happened. He said "God decided to keep Baby #3. Jesus is holding Baby #3." Jay said "Oh." From that moment, that has been reality for Jay, no questions asked. If only I could read God's word and simply say "Oh." and believe all of it. God has worked a miracle in me over and over in the way He has given me faith to believed His words. There is so much that I still doubt, like His sovereignty, and it comes out in my sin of anger when things don't go as I had planned. God, however, has freed me of that sin in this situation. I have not felt any anger toward God or anyone else through this. On a normal day, I struggle with this sin every time something doesn't happen the way I want it to. Isn't God so good and faithful to prevent that sinful thought pattern that is so natural?!

"Who told us we'd be rescued What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares"

God never tells us that we'll live without trials. In fact, He tells us the opposite.
Acts 14:21-22 says of Paul and Barnabas "They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said."
What has changed is our perspective. We live knowing that Christ died for our sins, when we should have died. We live knowing that without His sacrifice, we could never get to God, never be heard by him, never be His children. We live knowing how weak we are compared to the almighty God and knowing of our desperate, constant need for him. What has changed is simply how we view nightmares. Outliving your child is certainly every parent's nightmare.
This nightmare happened suddenly with no definite symptoms. At the beginning of this pregnancy, I considered the possibility of a miscarriage because two of my friends had miscarried shortly before we found out we were pregnant. I was afraid that it would happen to me and that I would struggle with my faith. The night before my appointment, I weighed myself and noticed that I had lost a pound. It was the first trimester, though, and it's very common to lose weight because of the nausea that most women experience. I suddenly got worried that I had miscarried even though I knew this wasn't a symptom. I looked online to see if it was even possible to miscarry without symptoms and I quickly discovered that it is. I was in tears with worry and I asked Shamus to pray for me.
The next day I went to my appointment feeling nervous. Before I went in the room to get the ultrasound, I prayed that God would give me strength if I had lost the baby. I told him I couldn't handle it on my own and that He is my strong tower and shelter. The Holy Spirit was preparing me to focus on the truth in the midst of a trial.

"We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair"
Thankfully, God tells us why nightmares happen to His children. James 1:2-4 says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." "Anything" refers to my faith, not my belongings.
Romans 8:28-29 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters" God's purpose is for me to become like His son - to be sanctified. This, like every trial and every test of my faith, is an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. I prayed that God would empower me to use this opportunity to see how I am not like Christ and how to become more like Him.
One thing I've begun to experience is giving God my burdens and taking Christ's yoke. Matthew 11:28-30 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"
If I give God my burdens - wondering if I caused this miscarriage, trying to blame myself, worrying that it will happen again, the reminder of our mortality and that anyone in my family could die at any time - He will give me rest. If I take Christ's yoke, which is trusting God at all times, and learn from Him, I will find rest for my soul. I must learn from him, though; to be gentle and humble in heart. To recognize that I am not in control ever is to let go of my pride. Christ's yoke of always trusting God may seem heavy and difficult but if I let go of my sin of pride, it becomes easy.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"
I was held from before I experienced the loss of my child. Christ lives in me because God gave me the gift of faith to accept salvation. The Holy Spirit gave me guidance to be focused on God and His character when everything fell. God's loving arms are around me all the time and I haven't felt alone in a long time - since before I became a believer in 2006. Isaiah 41:10 says "So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Not only have I felt God's presence when I am seemingly alone, but I have plainly experienced being held by Him through others in my life. The people in our shepherding group willingly put aside their plans and burdens and have served our family in many ways and continue to do so. Our families and friends outside of this group have shared our sorrow and shown love even when it meant they would sacrifice their time, plans and energy. The elders at our church shepherd many hundreds of people and have been praying for us and have called to share their love and encouragement. Thank you, everyone, for your love. We praise God for all of you.
You have been a reflection of the love Christ showed all of us when he sacrificed perfection in paradise to come to this earth and suffer. He willingly stopped on the roads he journeyed to serve people throughout His ministry on earth. He sacrificed everything when he willingly bore our sins and died in our place a horrible death on a cross. His sacrifice was the greatest sacrifice in history, with the greatest rewards - the reward of peace with a holy God who cannot tolerate sin and has become our Father; the reward of guidance by the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins and empowers us to repent, who guides us and encourages us; the reward of becoming more and more like Christ while we live on earth; the reward of truly becoming like Christ when we leave this earth; the reward of eternally living with God in an exciting and perfect life with no tears or pain or death and a life full of praise and serving God.

"This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows"
Praise the Lord that we have not experienced bitterness or hatred, no anger or distrusting God.
"The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow"
Our grip on our burdens must be loosed. We must let it go and give it to God. Our friends and families have willingly followed God's command to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn". (Romans 12:15) When we shared the good news that we were pregnant with our third child, they all rejoiced with us. When we told them of our loss, they willingly mourned with us by choice. They could have chosen not to hear our story, chosen to pretend that all is well by avoiding the topic. They have done the opposite, which has helped us mourn the loss of our baby. Thank you God, for tears that we can cry to express our pain - that we don't have to internalize pain and prolong it, but that we can process it. Thank you God, for an example of how to mourn:
Psalm 6:6-9 says:"I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
The LORD accepts my prayer.
David was not expressing sorrow because his child had died, but we can learn from his prayer how to be sorrowful and still honor God.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"

"If hope is born of suffering"
We are suffering because our child died. She is dead and we will never hold her, kiss her, chase her around the house, or tickle her. We will never see the sweet look in her eyes when she smiles, but we are confident that she is being held and loved by our Heavenly Father and that his arms are far better arms than our own. We know that she never suffered and that she never will, and that brings us much comfort, and soon I know we will have joy in that thought.
We are praying that God will give us another child, but our hope does not lie in that gift. Our hope is in Christ alone. Romans 5:3-5 says "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Our hope is in God, who takes care of us, who never fails us, who never leaves us, who can never die. Nothing can separate us from His love, as Romans 8:35; 37-39 says: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
If those things cannot separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, then we are certainly not going to be separated from His love. What a hope we have!
"If this is only the beginning"
Surely this is only the beginning of our suffering on this earth. And the beginning of our journey of hope.

"Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior"
Can we not persevere through this trial in the name of hope in our Lord Jesus? Can we not withstand the test of our faith? We are powerless to do so, except that the power of the living God lives in us, constantly strengthening us, helping us, and holding us. "What shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32)
We are told here that God will "graciously give us all things". If I had chosen which gifts to receive, I would have chosen to receive the baby that died in my womb. By God's grace, He spared my child and us from whatever suffering he knew would come with that child. Maybe she was not physically able to survive on this earth. Maybe she would reject the love of Christ for her entire life. I don't know why she was taken from us by the Giver of good gifts. God clearly tells us that it is because of His grace and mercy, and we know God intimately because of Christ and He is a good God. We can easily trust his decisions because we know of his amazing character thanks to His word.
So the answer is YES! We can wait for our savior, because He empowers us to do so!
"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"

Thank you, God, for holding us and never letting go. "You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, "Lord, blessed be your name!""

5 comments:

Katelynne said...

Blessed be the Name of the LORD, Blessed be YOUR Name!! May the God of comfort HOLD you all TIGHTLY in HIS ARMS OF LOVE. May His Peace, that passes all understanding continue to grant you His grace as you suffer through the grief of losing this precious baby girl. What a testimony to His goodness in the midst of suffering your portrayed in your blog. After losing a child through miscarriage, I would have been encouraged if I had had this to read back then. GOD did meet me in the midst of our loss though, and those who had experienced it were there to comfort me. Thankfully, Ruth was on the way 2 months later. God did grant us the desires of our heart and heard our cries for another child. Praying that will be His will for your lives. Could I pass this on through FB. I know it would bless others I know who have lost or are suffering in other ways. Let me know. Love you dear precious sister in Christ. Know we will continue to pray for you, Shamus, Jay, and Ben.
May you continue to give GOD glory for His character. What a comfort it is for us in times like these.

Renee said...

I'm so glad that you wrote down your story because many others will now be able to benefit from it weeks, months, and years from now. Thank you for the way you are honoring Christ through this time of pain. Love you guys!

Bonnie said...

You don't know me, but I read your link through a friend's suggestion on facebook. Your story of God's grace is beautiful, and I thank you for surrendering your heart to the Plan of God.

I can fully relate. My baby boy was born still last August 9, 2010. He was 40 weeks and 5 days. It was a complete surprise, and we still don't know "why" except that God willed it. Right after I knew that my baby would not be born living, God directed my husband and I to read Ps. 103..."Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name." Boy, that didn't come from me.....that came completely from God. I thank Him for the sweetness of His presence in the midst of my storm.

May you know His comfort and continue to accept His grace. Thanks so much for sharing.

I'm sure you have a lot of people who have offered to talk (they came out of the woodwork for me last year), but if you ever want to discuss this, my email is bonniejoyfoster@gmail.com.

Lovingly,
Bonnie Foster
Casstown, OH

Karen said...

Katelynne - Thank you for asking; you can share this on facebook. I did with the intention of sharing the faith God has given us and for His glory. Thank you for your show of love through your comment and prayers... What a joy it is to be part of God's family

Karen said...

Katelynne - Thank you for asking; you can share this on facebook. I did with the intention of sharing the faith God has given us and for His glory. Thank you for your show of love through your comment and prayers... What a joy it is to be part of God's family

Bonnie - Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your story. While I waited for my husband you get to the doctors officer that day, I read the black psalm (88) thinking that would help me expresses my sorrow. Immediately I needed encouragement and I too turned to psalm 103. God's word is amazing!